Coping with long term health conditions

Coping with long term health conditions

Unfortunately, over and above the physical health implications that need to be medically managed, with many chronic and enduring physical health conditions, there is often a corresponding impact on our emotional and psychological health. Long term health conditions can include; chronic fatigue, IBS, thyroid issues, back pain, arthritis, treatment for some cancers, Meniere’s Disease etc.

  • Long term physical health conditions can result in:
    • discomfort and pain
    • side effects from medication
    • inability to function as previously in either your work or personal life
    • changes in sleep patterns
    • changes in eating habits
    • fatigue
    • depression
    • anxiety
    • fear
    • anger
    • stress
    • feelings of loss, grief
    • vulnerability
    • low self-esteem
    • changes in physical appearance
    • fears for the future
    • regrets about the past.

With some conditions e.g. IBS, the psychological impact can exacerbate the physical symptoms and create a vicious cycle i.e. the symptoms of the physical health condition are made worse, which then exacerbates the associated negative feelings etc.

Accessing therapy can enable you to break this cycle by identifying the thoughts and behaviours that may be making your physical symptoms worse.  It can also help you to develop and maintain more effective strategies to manage your psychological and emotional well-being which may in turn have a beneficial impact on your physical health. If you have a long term physical health condition you will recognise that it is not possible to control everything that happens in life, but you will have choices that only you can make about your life.

However to make those choices, you may need to have time to explore what your values are, what direction do you want to take your life. Beyond that, having made your choices, in therapy you will also gain support to implement the changes you want to make.    

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